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Cablegate: Niger Moves Out of Last Place in Human Development

VZCZCXRO2082
PP RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHNM #1423 3371235
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031235Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3937
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS NIAMEY 001423

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON SOCI NG
SUBJECT: NIGER MOVES OUT OF LAST PLACE IN HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
RANKINGS

REF: 06 NIAMEY 1255 (NOTAL)

1. Niger has moved out of last place in the recently updated
UNDP Human Development Index (HDI). The HDI measures the
performance of countries in three dimensions of human
development: a long and healthy life, as measured by life
expectancy at birth; knowledge, as measured by the adult
literacy rate and the combined gross enrollment ratio of
primary, secondary and tertiary schools; and a decent
standard of living, as measured by GDP per capita in US
dollars (converted using purchasing power exchange rates).
The recently released 2007/2008 Human Development Report
ranks Niger at 174, up from the last place 177 it had held
for the last few years, moving ahead of Guinea-Bissau,
Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone.

2. As indicated in the following table, Niger's improvement
in the HDI is due to a substantial increase in life
expectancy.

- 2007/2008 2006 2005
- --------- ---- ----

Life expectancy at birth 55.8 44.6 44.4
Adult Literacy Rate 28.7 28.7 14.4
School enrollment rate 22.7 21.0 21.0
GDP per capita 781 779 835

3. Comment: Of course the actual life expectancy did not
increase by 11 years in one year, just as the actual literacy
rate did not double from 2005 to 2006. The apparent
improvements more likely reflect changes in statistical
methodology. An EU official in Niamey attributes the
increase in life expectancy to an updated demographic survey
that revises infant and child mortality rates downward.
ALLEN

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